Library Lessons: Sep 18-22, 2017

Week 5!  The time is flying.

PreK:

New unit: COUNTING.  We started with The Name Song, then did the Little Mouse, Little Mouse color/counting/guessing rhyme from last week (note: I always hide the mouse before they come in. My pieces are magnetic, too).  They were so excited to play this game again!  We’ll use it one more time before changing it up.  Patterns and repetition works with the littles.

Made in my long-ago days as a preschool storytime librarian!

Stories included another Pete the Cat – this time, with his four groovy buttons.  And Doreen Cronin’s counting adventure Click Clack, Splish Splash gave good opportunity to talk about what was actually happening in the story and why it was happening.  Why were the ducks sneaking?  Why was it important that the farmer was sleeping?  Building in opportunities for children to think and wonder about their reading at a young age will serve them well as they grow as readers.

You may notice our main slide doesn’t include much of this work.  Why?  Too many words/images.  I keep it simple for the pre-K’s visual needs.  More isn’t always better.

Grades K&1:

Author study: Peter Brown.  Intro song: The Name Song.  This week: My Teacher is a Monstert! (no, I am not).  No image was put on the slide…and here’s why: I forgot!  Noticing this error before the class came in, I could’ve added it, but I chose to use it as a thinking question moment.  After sitting down, students talked with knee-neighbors about what they think a teacher-monster would look like.  Ideas included sharp teeth, rough skin, purple or green, big size, pointy nails and more.  This was a perfect way to build an open-ended question into the lesson and engage all students.

Know that each week, prior to check out, we review expectations related to self-checkout and locating books (using our shelf marker, how to scan the barcodes, etc).  It takes 2-3 minutes, but I’m taking time at the beginning to reinforce and review.  One of my favorite sayings in teaching is “go slow to go fast.”  Slow down at the beginning of the year (and week 5 is still the beginning!) and work with intention to teach the skills and behaviors you really value and that will ultimately benefit the child.

Grades 2, 3, 4:

Emoji Scavenger Hunt!  After last year’s Pokemon Go to the Library hunt, I chose to edit the clues and streamline the hunt into a single hunt for all grades.  What I learned: it was perfect for grade 3 learners, a little too easy for grade 4 and too long (though not too hard) for grade 2.  But, my assessment was informal: at the end, students were asked if they found a space in the library that they didn’t know about…and 95% of students answered YES.  Success, even if they didn’t complete the hunt.

Students did the hunt with a teacher-selected partner.  The reasons partners are teacher-selected are many, but the big ones are: 1 – it eliminates fretting over “who will be my partner?”; 2 – it keeps kids focused on directions, as they’re not fretting about finding a partner; 3 – students who need specific partners (a strong reader with a student who struggles; a student who speaks Italian with the student who speaks multiple languages) can be placed together and not left out.

Full procedures for how to do the hunt are found in the Pokemon link above, including a timeline of how it looks in a 40 minute class.

This year there was a bonus question: if students finished early, they were to think of a clue I could’ve asked.  There were some great ones: where the family photos are hanging, where the daily directions are found, a cozy spot with a rooftop. These are all places in our library that they found important and meaningful.  I’d also include the E section (who knows why I left it out!), poetry, and more nonfiction.

Questions? Wonders? Please ask.  Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Library Scavenger Hunt: emoji-edition

Another year, another scavenger hunt.  This year: EMOJI  (Because, thankfully, the Pokemon craze has calmed down a bit.)

I use the blog to host the images for our QR codes, and I’m about halfway done.  More on this in the coming days.  Curious to see how it should work?  This is what we did last year.

In short:

  1. Write clues/important areas of the library.
  2. Take pictures of places in #1.
  3. Decide on a theme.
  4. Layer picture, clue, graphic, text box answer.
  5. Save image as a JPEG. Load into blog.
  6. Use unique web address to create QR code.
  7. Post QR codes in correct areas in the library.
  8. Give students the HUNT!

Publisher is my favorite tool for photo layering and creating student paperwork…but it doesn’t work on the school MacBook Pro, so I’m logging late hours tonight.  It’ll be worth it, though.

Library Lessons: Sep 11-15, 2017

Week 4: International Dot Day!

Last year, I missed out on the chance to connect with other teacher-librarians celebrating Dot Day across the US / world.  This year, remembering missed opportunity, I had a prime opportunity to connect with schools in North America…and I didn’t miss out!

Due to time changes and class schedules, only 3rd and 4th grades were able to Skype/Google Hangout for Dot Day.  How’d we do it?  This Google Doc.  And by getting my name and location out there, other t-l’s across the US have been in contact so that we can connect over Global Read Aloud and other events.

In a lovely turn of events, all technology worked for each Skype/Hangout!  I’ve had some serious tech hurdles at the new school, making this turn of events much appreciated.

What’d we do?

PreK

Theme: CATS

It’s not on the white board, but we warmed up with The Name Song, followed by the storytime favorite Einy Meiny Miny Mouse flannelboard (which I do with magnet pieces).  LOVE that I saved some of these from my long-ago years at YCL in South Carolina (and brought them to London!).

Our story: Kevin Henkes’s Kitten’s First Full Moon.  Why this?  It not only fit the theme of CATS (a kitten is a baby cat, which we discussed), and the full moon looks a lot like a DOT!  This wiggly bunch was mesmerized by the kitten’s story.  After, each child made a dot for the kitten, which was then brought to life as part of a whole-group experience using Quiver’s AR app.

K/1:

International Dot Day!  We read The Dot, then created dots as creatively as possible.

As the school library is crunched for space, I sourced clipboards for children to color on and handed out 2 crayons per child.  They could share their crayons (or not) and color anything their hearts desired. As a whole group, I used the Quiver AR app to bring their dots from flat circles to 3D spheres for the whole group to see and appreciate using an iPad that connected to the AppleTV.  Bonus: the K’s are studying shapes in their classroom!

Grade 2:

More Dot Day fun!Learning from my first lesson – where students brought their own iPad to the library to use with their dot – the second lesson I structured like the K/1 lesson in that I brought their work to life.  Similar to last year, students wrote a word to describe who they wanted to be this year. Favorite words included: kind, nice, respectful, creative, happy.

Grades 3&4:

With 40 min (grade 3) and 60 min (grade 4) class times, lessons weren’t the same.  If we had time, students made AR dots; if not, dots were sent home after a quick how-to tutorial (all students in grades 3&4 have school-issued iPads that can go home, and the app was pre-downloaded).  All classes heard the The Dot and connected with a different elementary library in the US.  Some classes had a Mystery Skype, others had a co-reading of The Dot, while still others had a share session of Dot Day creations.

We were lucky enough to connect with learners in Maryland (2 schools), Vermont, Kansas, and Alabama.  And, in case you’re wondering, these were all new connections for me – I knew no one at these schools!  My students guessed that the connections were coming from places I’d lived – WA, GA, and LA – and they were so surprised to discover new places across the US.  One of the best moments was when a student here in London realized the school in Vermont was not far from where he used to live! Another great one was when we were asked, during a Mystery Skype, whether we lived east or west of the Prime Meridian.  We’re almost exactly on top of it AND a student was wearing a t-shirt from the official Prime Meridian gift shop…making for some amazed looks.

Perhaps, though, it was the reactions that were the best.  My students have the gift of experiencing a bigger world than most kids: almost all of them have travelled extensively and attended schools in at least one other country.  That wasn’t the case for the schools we Skyped – these were kids that, almost exclusively, had attended the same school since birth.  Watching the realization set in that we were not in the US – that we were in London – was a true gift.  I am so thankful I could help broaden their world while living and teaching abroad.

Now, back to reality.  Dot Day, I’ll be back next year. I cannot wait to connect with more learners across the US and world!

Cheers, y’all.  –arika

Library Lessons: Sep 4-8, 2017

Week 3 is in the books. With fewer classes than in previous years, it makes sense to combine grade levels to teach certain skills.

PreK

We warmed up with The Hello Name Song (thanks to Stephanie, the best music teacher ever for this hack!), with index cards for each child pre-placed on the floor. Doing this alleviates drama in locating a seat, gives a set way to begin class as the children walk in, and helps me (and them!) to learn names.  Here’s a peek of how it looks with the K class:

Theme unit: CATS (because why  not?). We talked about animals cats like and don’t like as our lead-in.

They LOVED Splat the Cat, and we had good discussion about how Splat felt using our Emoji Mood Meter. Hairy MacLairy, while full of rhyme and repetition, wasn’t as well-received.  To be honest, this was likely because I wasn’t feeling the story.  I chose it because the school has a complete collection of the books.  Bad choice.  Read what you love, and the lesson will likely be better for it.  I know better and will do better next week.

Kindergarten/Grade1

Begin with The Hello Name Song.

Unit: SEL / Dogs / Intro Author Study

 

After last week’s Dog & Bear discussion, we continued talking about how characters DO THEIR BEST with Peter Brown’s Chowder.  With a whizz-bang first illustration (the dog is on the toilet!), this story has the students in rapt attention.  The brain question of the week was tied to the school&life behavior expectations I teach in the library (BE KIND. BE SAFE. DO YOUR BEST. HELP THE REST.). Even though the school hasn’t adopted those sayings, I continue to repeat them whenever I see the children in the building.  How did Chowder do his best?  He didn’t give up when the ball got stuck in the tree.  He kept trying to find friends. He played kickball his best.

Chowder also lent itself to a wonderful SEL (social-emotional learning) discussion. As he’s excluded by other dogs, as he struggles with making a mistake, we consulted the Emoji Mood Meter to place Chowder’s moods.  SEL can happen in the library with a little bit of planning and the willingness to have the discussion.  Note that I don’t announce “we’re doing a SEL-themed lesson”…this is an unwritten, yet very purposeful, intention in many PreK/K/1 lessons.

Grade 2

SCIENCE TIME! With a unit of States of Matter happening in their classrooms, it was the perfect time to introduce Arnold Lobel’s Owl at Home.  With solids, liquids, and gases represented in the first story, The Guest, our conversation was rich.

Taking inspiration from Kyleen Beers & Robert Proubt’s Divergent Thinking, the BRAIN icon was introduced with a question stem from the book.  Asking children, “What surprised you?” was surprising in itself: one class had very flat answers while another had rich, thoughtful insight.  What a gift when professional reading works in daily life – and, in one case, with great results.  This is one resource I’ll continue to mine and incorporate into the library.

Grade 3/4

First up: booktalks!  As independent reading is the root of academic success, I’m aiming to increase the amount of books read.  One way to build interest and excitement is by booktalking.  Looking over the reading survey results from last week, I tailored the booktalks to the interests of the students.  Series like Ranger in Time and Bunjitsu Bunny were very popular, as were books like The Terrible Two, We Can’t All Aren’t RattlesnakesCrenshaw, and The Wild Robot.

The day’s big goal, though, was PASSWORDS. With Destiny logins in our future – and no central IT that sets student passwords – I chose to instruct on how to construct a STRONG or WEAK password and allow them to write their own. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on how to best make a password – and it changes the rules.  Short version: write a short, 3-4 word sentence that’s important to you.  Boom: strong password.  The sentence can have a capital letter and punctuation, too. Less gibberish = easier to remember.  WIN!

Exit tickets had students writing their own password which were checked for clarity prior to the end of class.

Note: All classes did self check out, and 4th grade had 20 minutes to independently read (as their class lasts 1 hour). I sit with them during this time, reading a book, while intermittently walking around the room to check what everyone is reading and – if not reading – recommending a quick read (like a TOON graphic novel).  This worked so well for 2 4th grade EAL students in one class that they checked out the recommended quick read to read again at home!

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Library ideas for little learners

What to do with the youngest students in the elementary library?  

This question is asked by many, and with good reason: the needs of the youngest learners are drastically different than those of children just a few years older.

Rhymes are perfectly suited to the PreK/K/1 crowd.  This explains how to begin Rhyme Time and includes a video demo.

For lower grades – PreK in particular – using themes to guide library lessons is one way to go.  Similar to how public library storytimes are structured, a theme is woven through the entire lesson (story/stories, songs, activity, etc).  With no curriculum standards for the 4 year olds and a long, 40 minute library class, this gives plenty of activity and some structure.  I haven’t done theme storytimes for years, but expect to have the same them for 3 weeks.

For K & 1st grade, though, standards exist (stay tuned for updates from AASL in November).  How to teach them in a meaningful way that meets the developmental needs of the 5 and 6 year old learners?  Some use the state book award nominees to guide lessons, which may work for you. Years ago, though, I tried something different: author studies.

An author study is exactly that: a chance to study an author (or illustrator) for a period of time, usually 3-4 weeks.  It gives a chance to make connections between books and characters while giving a sense of predictability to a library class: students know that when they come in, they’ll either be continuing an author unit from a previous week or starting a new unit.

There are many authors and illustrators that work well for the K/1 crowd.  In my experience, choosing those who represent a diverse background and whose books I find appealing work best.  Jon Klassen, Candace Fleming, Keiko Kasza, Mac Barnett, Lauren Castillo, Christian Robinson, Arthur Howard, Audrey Wood, Peter Brown, Brian Won, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Ezra Jack Keats, Deborah Freedman, and Anna Kang are some of my favorites.

Perhaps notably missing on that list is Mo Willems.  As many students are familiar with his famous characters, having a “The Mo You DON’T Know” unit  (with titles like Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator and Leonardo, the Terrible Monster) can been successful.

As technologies have changed, so are the opportunities to connect with real, live authors over Skype and Google Hangouts. The virtual sessions are perfect for the shorter attention-spans of the K crowd and those with limited budgets: many authors are willing to Skype for free if the time is 10-20min. As a goal, find one author who is willing to Skype during your year.

How to build in research is one question that often crops up.  One possible answer: choose the final book in the study to springboard into research.  Perhaps, after reading Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, the students research tigers or another wild animal.  Or after reading Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold, the K’s research how to stay healthy.

There are other K units of study that aren’t author studies, notably Folktales Around the World (a 6 week study) and Out of this World Research with Kindergarteners (a 3-4 week unit connected to classroom science).  The important part: they’re all units.  Almost every library lesson is part of a unit.  When there is a flow, students know what to expect when they come into the library and are better prepared for a successful experience.  This is why the daily schedule is always posted, regardless of the grade level.

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Rhyme Time: a how-to

A dozen or so years ago, faced with teaching Kindergarten for the first time ever, I was at a complete loss.  What to do with 5 year olds in a school library for 40 minutes?  What would benefit their development as readers?  What would be developmentally appropriate?

Thinking and brainstorming about how to structure the class led me to two ideas.  One: use author studies to structure our reading time.  Two: use nursery rhymes to build pre-reading skills.

Best. Ideas. Ever.

Nursery rhymes are well-known as one way to build reading readiness.  Chanting rhymes as a group, discovering words that sound the same, brainstorming other words that have the same sounds is a powerful tool toward building readers.  By displaying the printed rhyme and modeling the left-to-right, top-to-bottom patterns of reading, children get pre-reading skills without a formal “lesson”.  And this can be included as part of the elementary library program.

With the beginning of the year as a time to teach expectations and basic behaviors (where to sit, how to check out, where to sit after checking out, etc), Rhyme Time is usually begun in week 4/5/6 of the school year.  By this point of the year, children (mostly) know how to come into the library, sit down, and be ready for the lesson.

Back in my public librarian days, I created a flip chart with handwritten nursery rhymes, including both well-known and more esoteric offerings, as part of infant Lapsit and Toddler Time.  It’s this same chart that I’ve used ever since. To begin, I model “rhyme time fingers” (like spirit fingers).  These wiggling fingers serve two purposes: they let kids move, and they show which children are ready.  Counting aloud, patting the beat on my legs, I model chanting the rhyme by myself.  On a second run-through, students join in.

The first time we do Rhyme Time, 2 nursery rhymes are introduced.  At least one is a rhyme they should know (like Humpty Dumpty) and one they may not know (like To Market To Market). The goal is to work up to 3 rhymes each week, which are repeated for 6-8 weeks before retiring them for new rhymes.

There are variations and extensions to Rhyme Time that can be included, should the group be ready.  Some weeks, brainstorm more words that rhyme (like in Humpty Dumpty, we notice that WALL and FALL rhyme…but ask if they know any other words that rhyme with those two – like BALL, ALL, CALL, etc). Some weeks, kids will create body movements that match the rhyme.  Sometimes, have a student lead the rhymes.  It’s formally flexible instruction. 🙂

Curious as to how it looks in action?  This is week 1 of Rhyme Time a few years ago.

Cheers, y’all!  –arika

Library Lessons: Aug 28-Sep 1, 2017

Week 2!

New this week: students were assigned individual iPads as part of their tech. Hearing this inspired the activity for grades 3&4.

PreK:

No library this week, as there was an all-day LEGO community build on Thursday. Six hours of building, assisting, & supervision for all grades PreK-4.

K/Grade 1

Warm up: the name song (repeated from Week 1).

Continuing with bears & SEL in the library, I shared Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear: two friends, three stories. This has always been a hit with the young crowd, and this week was no exception.

Our white board introduced a new symbol:

Part of my summer professional reading was Disrupting Thinking by Kyleen Beers & Robert Proust. Inspired by their Book-Head-Heart questioning strategy, I tweaked it to become Book-Brain-Heart. Because it was our first time seeing this strategy and it was with the K/1 students, only one icon was introduced. I believe that you go slow to ultimately go fast, especially in teaching new strategies.

Our questions today were to inspire the BRAIN to connect the story with our SEL expectations of Be Kind, Be Safe, Do Your Best, Help the Rest. The students were asked to think of ways Dog and Bear were KIND or SAFE in their stories. After each short story, we stopped and had turn-and-talk discussions with knee-neighbors to share how either Dog or Bear was KIND or SAFE. Interestingly, the children also expanded their discussion to include how they HELPED THE REST.

Self-checkout was better than before, and most children remembered their books. If they didn’t and they still wanted a book, it was allowed.

Grade 2:

Stories with a SEL focus was today’s objective.  Inspired by the Mood Meter from Yale’s RULER SEL curriculum, I created & introduced the emoji Mood Meter. It looks fun and kicked off our discussion: we talked about what the emoji’s might mean, how moods can change throughout the day, and how – if we were OK – we’d feel.  Being OK isn’t bad or good – it’s medium, it’s OK. This led to our story: Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s The OK Book, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Side note: AmyKR is a favorite-favorite of mine.  Share books that you love. Your joy shines through.  Faking excitement or interest in a book? Kids can tell.

While reading, if students agreed with the character that they, too, were OK at ___, they tapped their head three times. This means “I know this” or “I agree here”. Lots of children were OK at kite-flying (must be the wind in London)!

After the story, students were asked to respond to a question on a sticky note: What are you OK at?  These were attached to their library passes so they could be easily distributed. 🙂  In the future, I hope to use Padlet and have kids use their iPads to respond to questions like this.

Grades 3&4:

Tech time! Somewhere in the readings or websites I’d seen in the first three weeks, I got the idea that a student survey was a requirement for my evaluation process.  Some Pinterest searches provided inspiration for our Reading / Library Survey.

Other goals of the survey: to learn reading interests (to drive purchases), to discover likes and questions, and to informally observe/assess overall tech skill and typing comfort. Results to be analyzed in the next two weeks.

Overall, it went well…but there were learning moments.  Too many of my questions required typewritten answers for this group.  Some questions, which were included to learn a bit about the student as a person, weren’t well-received. Others were poorly worded.  Here’s the version I’d use in the future (note: it’s a google doc).

For those wondering how they got to the survey: a tinyurl of our Destiny website, where a link to the survey was placed, made the process fairly painless. If the iPads had a QR code scanner, we’d have done that. By going to the Destiny homepage, we made a shortcut link to the desktop to use in the future.  Storing surveys and weblinks in Destiny is easy and kid-friendly.  Symbaloo would also work.

Both 3rd and 4th also had an intro to the emoji Mood Meter, and 4th had booktalks as part of their hour-long library class.  Another lesson learned: booktalk first, survey second.

Phew. Busy week! Cheers, y’all! –arika